Friday, October 23, 2015

Yik Yak: Enemy of Campus Political Correctness

Given the stifling political correctness that prevails on most college campuses, and the fact that a dissenting opinion is likely to be met with bullying (if not actual official punishment), it’s not surprising if conservative students keep their heads down, and are afraid to speak up.

But one type of social media allows them to speak up anonymously. Yik Yak allows student in a particular geographic area or at a particular school (say: Marquette) to speak up and dissent from the intolerant orthodoxy.

Naturally, the politically correct leftists don’t like this. For example, they label posts that fail to show sufficient respect for their proclaimed grievances as “racist.” This has happened at Claremont College, and here at Marquette.

At both Marquette and Claremont, the the vast majority of “racist” tweets were not racist at all. They just disagree with the activists.

Not surprisingly, campus leftists and college administrations want to put an end to this. As an article in The College Fix explains, “Campuses ‘symbolically’ ban Yik Yak as battle over app rages.” Some colleges have blocked Yik Yak from their college Wi-Fi networks. Of course, this isn’t very effective, since students can connect via the cell phone infrastructure.

In this, college campuses resemble authoritarian nations, in which the party in power tries to censor and block communications that the regime dislikes, but technology keeps undermining the effort.

And yes, contemporary U.S. campuses are the nearest thing in American society to foreign authoritarian regimes.


Students used Yik Yak to pan, and kill a required environmentalist indoctrination course at Eastern Michigan University. Interestingly, the faculty union demanded that students who posted nasty tweets about the course should be tracked down and punished. They were not.

Further Update

Of course, the politically correct want politically incorrect voices silenced, and nobody is more intolerant of politically incorrect speech than feminists. Thus we have the following from the The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Seventy-two women’s and civil-rights groups on Wednesday announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak.

The groups have sent the U.S. Education Department a letter calling for it to treat colleges’ failure to monitor anonymous social media and to pursue online harassers as a violation of federal civil-rights laws guaranteeing equal educational access.
What do they mean by “violation of federal civil-rights laws guaranteeing equal educational access?” They mean people are allowed to criticize feminists!

The article in the The Chronicle of Higher Education has some of the offending posts, and all of them clearly fall into the category of constitutionally protected speech, directed against the a campus Feminists United club. The list is below:

Calling feminists “feminazis” or “femicunts” is grossly uncivil, but it’s no worse than calling Republicans “Republithugs” which leftists do all over political discussion groups and comments sections on the Internet.

Likewise, suggesting sending the feminist women off to an all women’s college where there are no men and no non-feminist opinions to tolerate is a jib against feminists. But implying that feminists hate men and are intolerant of other opinions is no worse than claiming that Republicans hate the poor, which liberals do all the time. In fact, it’s closer to being factual.

The Yik Yak posts, in other words, are not threats, and not even hate speech directed toward women as a group, but political taunts directed at people with particular opinions.

But feminists think they represent women generally, and they think that criticizing them is hate speech directed against all women. In other words, feminists think their political opinions are privileged, and nobody should be allowed to criticize them.

And they want government to punish anybody who does.

Which is to say that they (or at least the campus activists among them) are nasty authoritarians.

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Blogger banzhaf's Blog said...


Honor students at Eastern Michigan University [EMU], angry about a course with mandatory 9 AM Friday 3-hour sessions seemingly designed in part to indoctrinate as much as to teach, have apparently nixed the experimental program, cut into the school's fund raising, and caused at least 2 of the 3 professors involved to refuse to teach it because of adverse comments on Yik Yak.
While the faculty union is in an uproar, demanding measures like punishment for the offending students and a ban on Yik Yak, at least some professors say it shows how a simple exercise of free speech can help overcome the traditional imbalance of faculty-student power in the classroom, and be a teaching tool.
"Although virtually all of the power to control what is said in a classroom traditionally lies with the professor, and both colleges and individual faculty members can choose to indoctrinate more than teach, Internet-based tools like Yik Yak can help redress the imbalance, empowering students to freely express contrary and unpopular views - and even criticize their teachers - especially if the teachers appear to be both unprepared and to stifle discussion," says public interest law professor John Banzhaf of GWU.
“If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the classroom,” suggests Banzhaf, who’s been called many names by his students as well as by his opponents - e.g., “Legal Terrorist” by FOX’s John Stossel.
EMU Professor Steve Krause is critical of the faculty union's claims that the Yik Yak incident constituted "serious student misconduct," and that students used it to "sexually harass and defame" faculty.
He wrote "there’s a difference between something rude and insulting in the realm of free speech and speech that is both a threat and harassment. Calling someone a 'bitch' or a ‘bastard' or whatever might be rude or insulting, but it’s clearly free speech. Saying ‘I want to hurt/rape/kill her or him’ is a threat, and that’s different. Based on what I’ve heard about this particular course, it is not at all clear to me that what happened went beyond the rude and insulting.”
Other EMU professors were also critical of the 3 complaining faculty members and their union's position. They noted that the comments "centered on how disorganized 2 instructors were, how unwilling those instructors were to allow class discussion, how repetitive the material was,” and that one professor became so angry she "abandoned the class to teaching assistants" - normally a firing offense.
It also appears that part of the students' anger - in addition to the mandatory 3-hour Friday morning meetings, teacher disorganization, and their refusal to permit certain discussions - was that the students saw the course as more indoctrination, and perhaps a mishmash, than real and valuable education.
The stated purpose of the course - “Interdisciplinary Exploration of Global Issues” [in this case, trash] - is to examine "the environment through the study of philosophical and literary texts," teach students about their supposed "ethical obligations toward" “animals and non-sentient nature,” read and discuss a book about the history of trash, etc.
The course was taught by professors in 3 totally unrelated fields: Margaret Crouch (Philosophy), Heather Khan (Geography/Geology), and Elisabeth Daumer (English).
Interestingly, although the course was promoted as “interdisciplinary,” and EMU actually offers a program permitting student to major in “Interdisciplinary Environmental Science and Society,” none of the professors from that clearly and directly relevant area were listed as teaching this new course.
The course, which was unappreciated if not actually disliked by so many of the honors students, and which required 3 professors and 13 fellows to teach, was touted in the course description as “Interdisciplinary” - but this is an often meaningless buzzword on college campuses, says Banzhaf.

10:53 PM  
Blogger banzhaf's Blog said...


Although many Eastern Michigan University [EMU] students and faculty were long aware of widespread student dissatisfaction with a bizarre mandatory course - in which professors of English, Philosophy, and Geography (along with 13 fellows) tried to teach honor students about trash - the school newspaper reported nothing about the growing controversy.
Then, when critical student comments on Yik Yak apparently nixed the experimental program, cut into the university’s fund raising, caused the faculty union to seek to discipline and perhaps even dismiss the students who complained, and caused at least 2 of the 3 professors involved to refuse to teach the course, The Eastern Echo still refused to acknowledge - much less to report on - what was happening.
The story was deemed important enough that the nation's leading higher education newspaper, the Chronicle of Higher Education [CHE}, ran not just one but two articles on the problem - one devoted solely to EMU - and many blogs likewise commented on it, but the campus paper continued to hide the story, instead reporting on presumably more important topics like the wrestling team and vaccinations.
Public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has championed free speech and freedom of the press on his own and other campuses, became concerned that students who did no more than comment on the unpopular course might be expelled. So he wrote to the student editors, just in case they somehow were still unaware of it, to suggest that the school's newspaper of record could no longer refuse to cover this important, widely-reported, and apparently unprecedented development - but he received no response.
Further, when Banzhaf wrote a fact-filled Letter to the Editor so that all EMU students and faculty would be made aware of what had happened, the decision by Opinions Editor Jennifer Kirby to publish his letter on Monday was suddenly countermanded by Editor-in-Chief Nora Naughton
Naughton claimed that, although the CHE article had appeared some 11 days earlier, and many on campus were aware of the problem even prior to that, she needed still more time to investigate.
In the meantime, the letter was censored - it can't be published until the investigation is completed, Naughton ruled. But, suggests Banzhaf, even student editors should understand that important events which occur (on campus or elsewhere) should be reported promptly by student and other newspapers as they happen, even if some of the details are unknown or even unknowable at the time.
This bedrock principle applies not just to airplane crashes and other accidents, but to events like the widely-publicized claims of rape at Duke and the U of VA. Even though the apparent facts may later change or even be refuted, the news of the events themselves were properly reported on at the time.
Anything other than covering an important on-campus development may strongly suggest censorship aimed at keeping students not only from knowing about an embarrassing incident on campus, but also from learning what a national publication and many blogs think of this apparently ill conceived course, one which may have been designed in part to indoctrinate as much as to teach.
Banzhaf argues that this incident, where students apparently killed off a very popular course by posting critical comments on Yik Yak, show how a simple exercise of free speech can help overcome the traditional imbalance of faculty-student power in the classroom,

10:57 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Marsh said...

You make a rather strong claim that feminists hate men more than republicans hate the poor. However would you prove that? Is it even applicable to your argument? Isn't that exactly the sort of weak logic that you're criticizing when it is applied to the anonymous writers on yik-yak?

10:40 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@ Elizabeth Marsh

The poster on Yik Yak implied that feminists hate men, and want to silence non-feminist opinions. The feminists wanted him punished for saying that.

Wanting him punished for saying that is indeed evidence feminists want to silence opinions with which the disagree.

But apparently, it's OK to say that Republicans hate the poor.

Simple fact: a lot of feminists do express extreme hostility toward men. How should one interpret the notion that "All Men of Responsible for the Prevalence of Rape?"

And Republicans don't hate the poor. Republicans would like poor people to get rich. It's Democrats who are happy with poor people remaining poor and dependent, and voting Democratic.

2:37 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@ Elizabeth Marsh

Demonizing men:

3:42 PM  
Blogger John Pack Lambert said...

I am not surprised Eastern Michigan University came up. I studied there. It is a virulently leftist campus where about the only embkem professors have up is the homosexual flag.

6:12 PM  

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